I look at “A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites” from time to time, particularly articles about web content. Good stuff.
A recent article applies to fundraisers as well as all — Infrequently Asked Questions of FAQs. Author R. Stephen Gracey starts with the assertion that he hates FAQs, but what he hates most is clearly misuse of FAQs, inserting sales pitches in answer for a worst case.
Other points are more useful to the ethical. Example: If your FAQ answers questions that the rest of your site should answer, you may have a broader content problem.
Good point on several levels. People go to FAQs when they are confused, don’t understand terminology, don’t know quite what’s up. Your site’s foundations should address all this, no? If you’re delivering content well, you don’t need FAQs at all.
I’d take that as a starting point for fundraisers. Did you set up a FAQ almost automatically when building your site? That might indicate that you’re site’s pretty old. Or amateur. But consider what that means for content delivery throughout. FAQs are the last resort, not the first.
Surfing around a few major nonprofits, I find very few FAQs. Where I find them, they’re pretty deep in the site, related usually to some fairly arcane subtopic.
An example: World Wildlife has a FAQ about traditional Chinese medicine, including implications for wildlife conservation. Ok, I might have a few questions. But even here the FAQ is really just a convenient format. I don’t believe these are frequently asked. This is just to old Q&A format for delivering information. Not a FAQ at all. But in so doing, it isn’t a misuse of FAQs, just a misnomer calling it a FAQ.
Anyway — Does your site have a FAQ? Are these questions truly asked frequently, by people telephoning in questions? Is this important content that should be served up to visitors, rather than deposited only for FAQ lovers or the desperate? Worth a thought.